Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor Opus 35 - Recent Writings - Samson and Leiken



self-contained worlds such as the dance and berceuse in the Scherzo, funeral march and nocturne in the third movement, and study in the Finale as the reasons for this. Where Schumann went wrong, according to Samson, were the conclusions he went on to draw from this.[206]


Anatoly Leiken's dissertation The Dissolution of Sonata Structure in Romantic Piano Music has particular relevance to Chopin's opus 35. In a chapter devoted entirely to the sonatas of Chopin, he states that "Chopin's contributions to the dissolution of the sonata norm are...the most far-reaching among Romantic composers."[207] He adds that many of Chopin's works that appear to have nothing in common with sonata structure include sonata features. He cites the F Major Ballade Opus 38, the Barcarolle Opus 60, and the Polonaise-Fantasie Opus 61, among others.


Leiken's chief contribution to the understanding of Chopin's use of sonata form is his explanation of the fusion of sonata and variation principles in opus 35. He considers this phenomenon as an important factor in contributing to the structural unity of each movement, long regarded as the principal weakness of this work in the late-nineteenth century. Referring to the analyses of Leichtentrit and Réti, he states that, although they addressed the questions of thematic unity, they ignored one crucial issue. This is "...the mixing of forms by Romantic composers striving to renovate the Classical formal patterns and to depart from the predetermination of the traditional sonata mould."[208]


By means of a thorough motivic analysis, much of it indebted to those mentioned in Chapter Seven, Leiken concludes that the first and second subjects of the first movement of opus 35 are actually variations on the introductory four bars. Each subject itself is then varied further. The third subject (Example 14, page 49), beginning at bar 81 (the closing section of the exposition), quotes all thematic elements of the movement. A summary of Leiken's analysis of the exposition is shown in Table 1:


[206] ibid., p. 131.

[207] Leiken, Anatoly. The Dissolution of Sonata Structure in Romantic Piano Music (1820-1850). Ph.D

dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1986, p. 193.

[208] After Leiken, Anatoly. 'The Sonatas,' The Cambridge Companion to Chopin ed. Samson, J. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 161.


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